Cupertino puts residents on alert
- By John Monroe
- Feb 17, 2002
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office is launching a program this month
through which residents of Cupertino, Calif., can receive e-mail alerts
about crimes in their neighborhood.
A test run of the E-mail Community Alert Program (eCAP) during the last
three months had an immediate impact, said Sgt. Skip Shervington, community
resource officer for the Sheriff's Office.
A test group of 100 people, recruited through Cupertino Neighborhood
Watch programs, "just by word of mouth grew to 400 rather quickly," Shervington
The program has already sparked more interest in Neighborhood Watch
programs, as people become more aware and concerned about the crimes
occurring around them. "I get people saying, 'Oh my God, that's my street,'
" he said.
Each morning, when Shervington gets to work, he checks the files on
the last 24 hours and boils reports down into three lines: what crime occurred,
how it occurred and in which block. In some cases, he will ask for help
in identifying suspicious persons or vehicles associated with a case.
It's quick work, but it's enough information to tell people how to minimize
their chances of being next, he said.
For example, someone with a habit of leaving a laptop computer sitting
on the front seat of the car might choose to take it in if he learns about
a string of car burglaries one street over. Or people might think twice
about leaving a house key under the doormat if they find out a burglar found
and used a hidden key.
But Shervington believes e-mail alerts can have a longer-lasting benefit,
similar to the impact of Neighborhood Watch programs.
"One of the things I realized when I was doing detective work and talked
to people about a burglary that occurred on their street, [was that] they
usually had no idea one had occurred," said Shervington, a 15-year veteran
of the department.
People who become more aware of what's happening in their community
are more likely to take action when they see suspicious activity, even if
they don't know their neighbors well, he said. "You have now bought into
that sense of community, so you tend to look out for them."
Cupertino residents can sign up for eCAP at a Neighborhood Watch meeting
or through Cupertino's Web site (www.cupertino.org).